Chapter 267: For the sake of world peace
"What's going on here?" Grand Preceptor Xie asked the doctors. None of them could offer an explanation, because all of them still felt like they were dreaming.
"Speak!" Grand Preceptor Xie's tone grew severe then. The terrified doctors all backed away to opposite sides of the bed.
One of the older ones finally piped up, "The Great General's wounds, Grand Preceptor, you—you've seen them with your own eyes as well."
"Many others have, too," another doctor spoke up. "None of us would have dared to hide this from you."
Grand Preceptor Xie walked to Chen Lu's bedside. He had indeed witnessed the man's injuries, but now he was completely healed just like that? How could that happen? While he was puzzling over the impossibilities and shaking his head, the image of Ning Xiaoyao suddenly appeared in his head. It's not like this hasn't happened before…
"Aside from you, who else has the abilities to bring someone back from near death?" Lou Zigui asked. "Xiaoyao, Xie Wenyuan can figure out that you were the one who saved Chen Lu."
Ning Xiaoyao shrugged her shoulders carelessly. "The Grand Preceptor's always wanted to bite me to death. If he finds out, he'll just want to bite me even more. What's so scary about that?"
Lou Zigui raised a hand to rub her head. What she says makes sense for once.
"Née Xu," Grand Preceptor Xie attempted to explain himself, but Lady Xu never gave him the chance to finish.
She looked at Chen Lu and said, "Weren't you on death's door?"
"I," Chen Lu began, "I ran into the Lord Protector Pei Yi during the day. He–he wanted to kill—no, his men shot me with arrows, then he hacked me with his shoulder on my shoulder. I remember I was…"
"I heard your injuries were severe," Lady Xu continued. "Tell me, where are your arrow wound and sword injury? If the Lord Protector dared to kill you, I'll kill him in turn!"
Chen Lu looked down at his body again before sending a pleading glance towards the Grand Preceptor. This was all too incredible for him to take in.
Grand Preceptor Xie said, "His Majesty has a miracle doctor at his side."
Neither the doctors nor Lady Xu took kindly to his words. Could any doctor heal an almost dead man in the blink of an eye? That wasn't a miracle doctor, but an outright immortal!
"Oh," Lady Xu said simply. She didn't look at Grand Preceptor Xie, but stared at Chen Lu instead. "So there was a miracle doctor. His Majesty tried to kill you, then sent his doctor to save you. Just what is His Majesty doing?"
Chen Lu was still looking towards Grand Preceptor Xie. Just what is His Majesty doing?
"Naturally, to win his goodwill," Grand Preceptor Xie replied easily.
"Goodwill," Lady Xu echoed. "Why would His Majesty want a man who couldn't even defeat the Lord Protector in combat?"
"….." said everyone else. You might as well call Great General Chen a useless good-for-nothing directly instead. Going around in circles like this is tiring to hear.
"Young lady, ah," Grand Preceptor Xie sighed, "You're Xu Jing's daughter."
Lady Xu finally looked at Grand Preceptor Xi. "So it's this consort who hurt Great General Chen."
"No, that's not what the Grand Preceptor meant," Chen Lu waved his hands at née Xu so she could stop talking.
"Where's the copper fish?" Lady Xu asked.
Chen Lu looked around the bed, then at Grand Preceptor Xie. Where's the Chen Clan copper fish I keep hidden on my person?
"Who was in charge of changing clothes for Great General Chen?" Grand Preceptor Xie asked the servants.
The servants exchanged glances before discovering that the two pageboys in charge of waiting on Great General Chen had disappeared.
"It must have been His Majesty," Grand Preceptor Xie muttered. There was no question. Ning Yu must have sent someone to kidnap the pageboys. But what does she need them for?
"So it's gone, ah," Lady Xu said while looking at Chen Lu.
Chen Lu only felt jumpy as he faced his wife with a sheepish smile.
Lady Xu said, "This consort has to congratulate the general for having both a son and daughter now."
"What?" Chen Lu was flabbergasted. Where did this come from? If they had a son and daughter, would they have spent the last few years asking doctors for medicine to treat her body?
"The née Xiang sisters, ah," Lady Xu said.
"W, what née Xiang sisters?" Chen Lu asked Grand Preceptor Xie again. Did something happen while I was unconscious?
"Where did these née Xiang sisters come from?" Grand Preceptor Xie asked Lady Xu.
"The Grand Preceptor was their matchmaker and even has the marriage certificate in your estate," Lady Xu said as she smiled at him. "You can't forget a pair of flowers like them so easily, Grand Preceptor."
Grand Preceptor Xie's mind spun fast before he finally realized what was going on. "Lass, don't fall for others' attempt to sow discord. Think about it yourself, His Majesty—the rest of you, withdraw," He stopped halfway to address the crowd in the room.
The doctors and all of the Grand Preceptor's servants immediately left the bedroom.
"There is no née Xiang," Chen Lu flared up. "I don't know any woman surnamed Xiang!"
Lady Xu only smiled coldly.
Grand Preceptor Xie said, "Lass, think it over carefully. His Majesty ordered men to kill the pageboys, then stole Chen Lu's copper fish. What use does this fish have for him? You and Chen Lu are both here, so he can use it to support another member of the Chen Clan with the authentication token. Anyone with the fish will be recognized as the head of the Jiangyin Chen Clan members, yes?"
Chen Lu suddenly said, "Didn't something happen to His Majesty?"
Grand Preceptor Xie only lowered his voice. "Nobody saw what happened. It's hard to verify whether anything really did."
"……." said Chen Lu. Could there be anything fake about the death of an emperor?!
Lady Xu didn't reveal her thoughts beyond staring at Grand Preceptor Xie. "Then it's still His Majesty who wants to break apart the relations between me and the general?"
"As long as you understand, that's good," Grand Preceptor Xie said.
At this point, Ning Xiaoyao whispered a few words in Lou Zigui's ear. Then the two of them flew off the roof to land in the flower gardnes, where they untied the pageboys and undid their gags. Ning Xiaoyao patted them both once to wake them up. At the sight of Lou Zigui, both boys prepared to scream.
"You're actually slacking off by napping here?!" Lou Zigui beat them to it. "Damned things, you deserve to die. Aren't you afraid of the Grand Preceptor beating you to death?"
The two pageboys were stunned into silence. They exchanged glances, neither of them clear on how they'd ended up in the flower gardens in the first place. Before this, they were clearly waiting in front of the general's bed. Seeing their silence, Lou Zigui was certain the two didn't recognize him by appearances alone and added, "If you want to live, then come with me and don't say a word."
Right now, Lou Zigui was dressed in the guard costume of the Grand Preceptor's men, so the two pageboys only stared at him before one asked, "Why do you want to help us?"
"Five taels of silver," Lou Zigui replied. "Give me the money and I'll tell the Grand Preceptor that you went to the kitchens to help Great General Chen boil some hot water."
"B-but nobody ordered us to do that," the pageboy stammered.
"Then add in 15 more taels," Lou Zigui said, "And I'll help you two bribe a doctor."
20 taels of silver. For a servant, these were monumental sums. The two pageboys looked at Lou Zigui with expressions of despair.
"Do you want to keep the money or your lives?" Lou Zigui asked.
Of course their lives were more important. The pageboys felt their hearts dripping blood with pain as they nodded in agreement. Ning Xiaoyao only watched Lou Zigui cheat the pair out of 20 taels of silver with her eyes nearly popping out of her sockets. That works too?
Lou Zigui began to bring the two to the door of the courtyard. The two pageboys inspected themselves and found no injuries, just a few splotches of mud on their clothes.
"Y-you're the one who tricked us?" one of the them asked Lou Zigui. There was no way they'd run to the flowerbeds for no reason. This man must want our silver, so he knocked us out and brought us there! At this, the pageboy suddenly wished that Lou Zigui could die right that instant!
Lou Zigui only kept walking without looking back. "Do you want to keep the money, or your lives?"
"We're only servants and don't have much money, ah," the more docile-looking of the pair spoke up pitifully. "We really don't have any at all."
"So you want to keep the money," Lou Zigui said simply.
"……" said the two pageboys.
Lou Zigui brought the two pageboys to the exit before suddenly adding in a small voice, "If anyone asks you in the future, just say the people sent to wait on Great General Chen already died. Got it?"
The two pageboys felt lightheaded at his words. What's this all about? Why haven't we made heads or tails of it from the beginning to the end?
Lou Zigui brought the pair far away before a few of the Chen Estate servant girls and nannies rounded the corner from a different direction.
"What did that guard mean?" one of the nannies murmured. "Nobody died, but they have to insist that someone did?"
"We should tell her ladyship about this, right?" a servant girl piped up.
A few of the nannies exchanged glances. Yes, they'd have to do that. Something about it didn't feel right.
Inside the bedroom, Grand Preceptor Xie was doing his best to coax Lady Xu while Ning Xiaoyoa eavesdropped from the window. The more she listened, the more sick at heart she felt. This old man's too gifted with his gab! It feels like Lady Xu's going to revolt and find me for revenge at any second!
Meanwhile, one of the Chen Estate nannies approached the entrance to the room and silently called for Lady Xu. She walked out and mistress and servant began to talk in the covered walkway outdoors. The nanny repeated Lou Zigui's words to Lady Xu, then added, "Mistress, this is more complicated than it appears."
"Two little pageboys?" Lady Xu asked.
The nanny nodded. "And a guard was leading them in the front. It looks like he holds some status in the household, probably as one of the Grand Preceptor's personal men. The two little ones were nothing buy pageboys."
This nanny had followed Lady Xu from her clan to the Chen household, so she was extremely loyal to her mistress. The reality of the situation was that no matter how well your birthright might be, or what position you held in the Chen Clan, even as head mistress, that née Xiang had already birthed a son and daughter to the general. Behind her was even the support of the almighty Grand Preceptor. How was her mistress supposed to face off against such a woman? Leaving aside the possiblity of a concubine, those two children were definitely of the Xiang Clan. Once the general grew old, wouldn't they end up as the new masters of the household? Who would they favor then? A dead husband passed on his holdings to his son. Her mistress would only suffer in the days to come, ah!
Lady Xu's voice was cold. "Call everyone inside. If Chen Lu doesn't give me a proper explanation by today, this isn't over."
"Mistress, what are you planning to do?" the nanny asked.
"Since it's Chen Lu's offpsring," Lady Xu said, "It naturally falls to me to raise them."
The nanny exhaled. Looks like my mistress hasn't lost her wits despite her anger. She knows what she has to do first.
Ning Xiaoyao stuck her hand inside her mouth. God, she's even planning to steal the children away! That's brutal!
The nanny obeyed Lady Xu's orders before going to call for the other servants. Once they were all assembled, Lady Xu looked at them with a disdainful eye. Worthless things. Both the doctors and the Grand Preceptor's servants were only bewildered by her flare. Did we offend her ladyship somehow?
Ning Xiaoyao brought Oil Jar back to the rooftop, where she pushed aside another tile to peek into the hall. Finally, the battle was about to begin. She mentally lit a candle in memory of Chen Lu. As for Grand Preceptor Xie—she was only anticipating how that Lady Xu could beat him to death instead!
For the sake of world peace, do your best, heroine!
Ning Xiaoyao saw Lady Xu walk into the room before clenching her hands into a fist pump.